The stolen materials are said to have involved self-driving vehicle technology – an area that Apple has been working on in secret for several years.
Federal agents apprehended the alleged culprit, Xiaolang Zhang, at San Jose International Airport after he hastily bought a ticket to China from Hainan Airlines.
Zhang allegedly took the top-secret documents from Apple when he went on paternity leave and stored the data on his wife’s laptop. He intended to bring the Apple data to a new employer, according to a tweet from Henry Lee, a crime reporter with KTVU Fox 2 News, a San Francisco-based news station.
Moments B4 flight to Beijing, ex-#Apple worker Xiaolang Zhang nabbed by @FBISanFrancisco at @FlySJC for stealing autonomous-vehicle trade secrets while on paternity leave, per @USAO_NDCA. Zhang told agents he intended to work for @xmotorsglobal & air-dropped data to wife's laptop pic.twitter.com/TRKC3lZmzu— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) July 10, 2018
Zhang has been charged with theft of trade secrets in a US District Court for Northern California.
Apple shares held steady at US$190.35 today.